Monsoon Season in the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts has a will of its own that simply will not be swayed by the trivial desires of one little Buggy Nut in a remote corner of this vast desert region. Annual rain fall in these environs ranges from 3 to 7 inches and this is the time of year when nearly all that accumulation takes place. The early onset of summer heat has warmed the Gulf of California and Sea of Cortez sufficiently to pump up each passing low pressure system full of moisture and guide it northward over what many consider Buggy Heaven. The sparsely vegetated flats and barren mountain sides that have steeped in 110 degree heat in previous months are re-radiating their saturated energy, merely adding convective force to the already heavy upper atmosphere, teasing each circulation to unload its burden over the desert floor.
Only days away from my long awaited and much needed respite from the chaos and triviality of the daily grind, a relentless counter-rotating flow of Pacific moisture and unsettled atmosphere is causing my hopes and dreams to flag with each passing cloud formation. I scour a dozen WX sites hourly in a vain attempt to invoke the “Watched Pot” concept. The morning air is dense with moisture as wispy, high altitude contrails of one system after another make their way northward. By midafternoon that humidity begins to coalesce over the mountain ranges in towering cumulus formations that anvil out at high altitude and threatening to unleash their fury at a moment’s notice. A clap of thunder is the only warning that precedes an initial disgorgement but soon after a towering wall of dust, debris and small furry creatures is swept along driven by the outflow as thousands of gallons of water hurdle toward the earth in droplets the size of dinner plates. In moments the sky is lit with rolling flashes of lightning and the well initiated have managed to find cover and high ground. It is an awe inspiring sight to behold the power of these concentrated storms as they roll across the terrain but the desiccated desert floor is ill-prepared to absorb such a deluge and soon arroyos are flowing at flood stage carrying all manner of flora and fauna to pool in setbacks, clog road culverts and stack up in curious piles across terminal deltas sometimes miles from their original position.
Therein lies the rub for a land sailor bent on touring the Dry Lake by Kite Buggy for it need not rain over the basin proper for several inches of standing water to be accumulate over the surface. It merely needs to rain on the proper side of the surrounding mountains. For weeks after such a downpour, the desert floor stays damp only inches under the surface with water trapped in the sands and gravel. So fine is the particulate matter of a dry lake that this can constitute millions of gallons and takes seemingly forever to evaporate back into the atmosphere. Without dry, hot breezes and brilliant sunshine of unobscured skies, it can take a month or more for a dry lake to reconstitute after a single weather event.
For the better part of two weeks several subtropical systems have swept across the region indiscriminately sullying my plans. I am despondent as a child with a soiled lolly. There is little left to do but drown one’s sorrows with strong drink and surf YouTube for buggy porn.
The horror… the horror…
Good on ya,
Photo by Dodd Gross